As the weather slowly heats up and we finally start to introduce sandals and short sleeves to our daily wardrobe – when it’s not pouring down with random rain – you’ll come to find that wedding season is upon us. It does seem over the last couple of years that so many people have decided to take the plunge and get engaged, and inevitably with their big day approaching I’ve been on the hunt for some wedding appropriate outfits.
The moment I realised I would be going to Valencia for a hen do, the first thing I could think of was indulging in an authentic paella.
You might not think about Valencia as a place for a typical hen party but that was the point – this wasn’t the standard weekend filled with neon pink feathery accessories and drunken escapades. This gorgeous bride wanted a weekend of luxury – Kardashian style.
After being treated to breakfast at the No 1 lounge at Gatwick, our two hour flight touched down in sunny Valencia and we were ready to celebrate, reminisce and explore.
Our first day involved us settling in to our weekend home – a bright and airy apartment located near Plaza de la Reina, where you could eat, shop and easily pick up transportation.
The roads are similar to Sorrento and are lined with the most beautiful buildings boasting uniform balconies. I became somewhat of an architecture fiend, snapping away at any given opportunity to capture the beauty and intricacy of these buildings.
I could spend hours wandering those streets, where lightly coloured buildings pave the way and create an air of romanticism. With every turn, you were likely to stumble across quaint cafes, colourful bars and eateries.
Boarding the city tour bus, we were taken around Valencia where we learnt more about the history of the city and the various influences that is still evident through the architecture and monuments that stand today from both Roman and Muslim rule.
We marvelled at some of the points of interest, taking a moment to really appreciate the life that had walked before us. After our tour we headed back to recoup and were once again out, exploring Valencia by night. Children happily played football as clocks neared midnight and as we freely roamed the streets looking for a good bar to relax at, I loved how safe it felt to be out this late. Of course you must keep your wits with you but as the night life starts relatively late in Spain, there were just as much people around as you would see during the day.
The only downside to Valencia however is the God awful slow service. You appreciate just how good the customer service is in London after you contend with staff in Valencia. Let me tell you, not only are you going to have to chase waiters for drinks, you’re going to have to put up with their blasé attitudes when they really screw up orders. An example of this being bringing me an alcoholic drink when I asked for no alcohol.
Yes. That kind of screw up.
You can’t let that deter you from the rest of the city though. If you want to get away from the rush of it all then why not head to the beach? A 20 minute cab ride from Plaza de la Reina, we pulled up to the bluest skies, towering palm trees and soft golden sand.
Playa de la Malvarrosa is a beautiful spot to lay out, top up that tan and frolick in the sea. Away from the beach, restaurants and bars line the street for those wanting to quench their thirst or satisfy their appetite.
If you prefer to get closer to the water and feel that sea breeze whilst gently riding the waves, then a sunset catamaran cruise will tick all those boxes. My favourite part of the entire weekend, it was good to just lie back, reflect and appreciate. The open sea is breathtaking. I’ve always had a bit of a fear of open water but that completely subsided and you can’t help but marvel at the endless blue right into the distance.
I can’t even describe the mural of colours as the sun began to set.. So I snapped a few pictures which I think explains my loss for words.
The final day of our luxurious weekend was spent at The Westin where we were treated to a soothing 60 minute treatment of our choice at the Caroli Health Club. I opted for a relaxing massage which was the perfect way to end this weekend of indulgence.
In terms of food, Valencia not only boasts dishes that tourists will be familiar with such as pizza and fast food franchises like McDonald’s and Burger King, but they also have more authentic dishes on offer like their traditional paella which I urge everyone to try.
One word of caution though, if you’re after an authentic paella then ensure that you don’t end up ordering arròs caldós by mistake. Although it’s a common dish in Valencia, the name translates to brothy rice. It is served in what reminded me of a cauldron which surprised me quite a bit but even with the mix up, it was a tasty meal.
For those with a sweet tooth, gelato is your answer. There are loads of gelaterias that line those bustling streets and with so many flavours to choose from, chances are you’ll be making more than one trip back.
It’s definitely been a while since I’ve been in Spain, however like my previous visits, I easily find myself not wanting to leave. As we were in Valencia for a purpose our focus was obviously living it up like Kimmy K – which I think we successfully did. Catamaran cruise. VIP access to the club. Indulgent spa treatment. You couldn’t ask for a better hen weekend!
However there is plenty more to explore here and I’m eager to resume my love affair with this vibrant Spanish city – Kardashian ready of course!
It’s always been my dream to travel around Italy.
So you can imagine how excited I was to get my tickets booked for gorgeous Sorrento. For those that don’t know, Sorrento is a coastal town in southwestern Italy which faces the Bay of Naples. A one hour coach ride from Napoli Airport, the cliff top views instantly take your breath away as you cast your sights out to azure waters and the faint trace of nearby islands. With every turn we made up those winding roads, the views just became even more stunning.
As we entered the town of Sorrento the first things I noticed were the cheerfully colourful buildings and the sheer amount of scooters! Roads in Sorrento are quite narrow and winding, which made our journey something of a miracle. Once we disembarked we got a taster of the town as we wheeled our luggage to our hotel, the Carlton International. Sorrento is quite a small town and so our hotel being placed quite near the main square meant that everything was pretty much within walking distance; the supermarket, cafes, souvenier shops and of course important sights that hold important history for the locals.
A good way to determine what you want to see is to board the City Train tour from Piazza Tasso, which spends 35 minutes taking you to key sights around Sorrento. An inexpensive way to get a quick feel for the history and the cultural offerings, it also provides excellent photo opportunities for those keen Insta-travellers. By foot, take the time to wander through those small cobbled roads where you’ll pass local artisan shops and landmarks that are key to this charming city.
I loved exploring Sorrento by foot, peeking in at passionate shop owners, all keen to sell you a piece of this coastal paradise. It was exciting taking a spontaneous left turn and discovering hidden treasures along the way.
Whenever you’re in Italy, you know you can’t go wrong with the food. The main square boasts a range of restaurants and bars all of which offer that pasta and pizza that Italy is known for.
Though I was unable to consume the meat there, I have to say that the vegetarian options on offer more than satisfied me. If I had to pin down my favourite meal, it would be Aurora’s vegetarian lasagna. Trust me. Vegetables never tasted so good!
Don’t forget to sample the gelato there as well. Creamy, smooth and full of flavour, my travel buddy and I savoured our caramel and hazelnut pots until the very end.
As Sorrento is quite small you’ll only need about three days to fully explore the town. I loved the Sedile Dominova, a meeting place where nobles use to gather to discuss issues pertaining to the town. It’s now used by older men as a place to socialise, play cards and pass time. Although constructed in the 16th century, there are breathtaking frescoes from the 18th century of trompe l’oeil columns and the family coat of arms. Considering its use all those years ago, the Sedile Dominova is well preserved, and according to other blogs, if you ask nicely enough, the locals will be more than happy for you to sit and take in the atmosphere and sights.
We pushed the boat out and indulged in spa treatments at the Excelsior Vittoria, which is perched on a high cliff top overlooking the Gulf of Naples. Walking through lush gardens scented with lavender, the Excelsior Vittoria was founded by the Fiorentino family and is run by the fifth generation of the very same family. You immediately know you’re in the hands of five star quality and treatment as you take a right turn three quarters of the way in and find yourself in the boutique spa, La Serra. Prices are a bit steep for treatments, but for 60 minutes, you’re transported to true peace and calm, forgetting completely about the hustle and bustle of Italian life.
A 20 minute ride by ferry from Marina Grande, lies the picturesque island of Capri. As you disembark you can’t help but stop and marvel at how beautiful the coast line is. White, yellow and pink buildings pop against the green backdrop and deep blue waters.
Capri offers sights to explore both on land and by water. The Blue Grotto is a hugely popular feature where visitors can venture inside this sea cave where it is illuminated a magnificent blue thanks to sunlight entering an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater.
The entrance to this cave is determined by the sea. It’s important that the tide is low and the sea is calm as the mouth of the cave is only two metres wide and one metre high. Sadly on the day we were visiting the sea prevented us from entering which was disappointing.
At the same time though, it was good to see that safety was paramount to tour guides and operators. While a lot of visitors wander Capri and take in the parade of shops and architecture this side of the island boasts, some forget to explore Anacapri.
Located approximately 150 metres above Capri, you can get a full view of the island by taking a quick ride on the chairlift to Monte Solaro. I admittedly chickened out of going – the thought of sitting in what looks like a standard chair attached to this revolving machine scared me senseless. However I have it on good authority from my friend who did go that it’s worth it.
Do I regret not going?
Looking back on these pictures, I’m beginning to, but Anacapri will always be there. Given how much I loved this glimmer of Italy, you can be sure I’ll be back.
Let’s face it – even the most sceptical of us would be intrigued at what a masterclass titled ‘Finding Mr or Mrs Right’ would entail.
Saturday was the perfect day to find out as I made my way to the Bermondsey Square Hotel. I sometimes do my best thinking on a long walk and making my way down to the masterclass hosted by Wajeeha Amin triggered a flurry of thoughts – what am I going to gain from this class? How does one even find Mr Right?
The masterclass itself is split into three stages, two of which I’ve completed. Wajeeha is very clear in how the process works and I have to say despite having reservations, the best way to see whether or not I would gain from this was to throw myself in completely.
Stage One: The phone consultation
The first stage was a phone consultation with Wajeeha. As formal as it sounds, it was essentially a conversation about where you’re at in terms of your personal life. Wajeeha was patient and gave me the time to gather my thoughts if I needed to and I felt like not even half way in to the phone call, it was like speaking to a friend.
Her tone was warm, understanding and considerate, which I found to be a massive comfort to me as there were some questions that warranted a moment to really reflect.
The purpose of this conversation is not only to gauge where you are, but to allow Wajeeha to include elements within the actual masterclass (stage two) that are relevant to you. I was curiuous how this would pan out, considering that I would be in a class with others who have had their own personal journeys up until this point.
Stage Two: The Masterclass
The second stage was meeting for the day long masterclass which was attended by a handful of other people. Though open to both men and women, we were a class of seven females which I think was great in terms of allowing us to let our guard down a little.
Our environment was airy but full of personality as you can see from several of my snaps. For me, it was the ideal setting to spend a day learning more about ourselves and gaining tools to help us in a very important part of our lives.
Wajeeha makes it clear that she isn’t going to promise us Mr Right, but she’s going to equip us with the tools we need to make better decisions when it comes to selecting and maintaining a potential relationship.
It’s definitely not easy being an open book and talking about yourself among a group of people who you’ve just met but the more I saw other people sharing, the more I felt as though it was a safe environment for me to open up.
The day was filled with discussions and activities. We were asked really thought provoking questions – questions we should be thinking about more often.
What do you value in life?
Why do you do what you do?
Plus we got the chance to get to know other people in the class over a delicious lunch.
This masterclass was great in terms of equipping us with an alternative way of thinking which not only will help us to build confidence in areas we lack such as connecting or even selecting a potential partner, but will remind us of our value and to never doubt what we’re worth. We spent some time thinking about core character values and discussing which positive ones were important to us and which negative values we absolutely could not tolerate.
It was kind of hard realising that the positive character values we picked out were not only elements I wanted and expected in a significant other, but they had been missing in previous relationships and it was clear that I had overlooked them in order to keep what I thought was a good thing going.
Those kind of realisations are quite difficult, especially as they came in waves during the day. But the truth is, if this masterclass didn’t ask me to think about things like this, I probably wouldn’t have admitted it or even come to this conclusion.
I felt like the masterclass was an opportunity to be real with yourself. It was the chance to really look at yourself and evaluate where your weaknesses are and understand through exercises and dialogue how you can improve yourself.
You may be surprised but I’m a massive believer in self improvement. How else can anyone experience the very best of you if you don’t even know yourself?
Summing up the masterclass is hard but I think I’ve managed to do so below…
Three important things I learnt during the day:
- All things start as a challenge. with enough perseverance that becomes habit and then eventually nature
- I am my own competition and sometimes my own downfall.
- In order to find someone who matches your character values, you first need to practice your own.
Three important things came to my attention throughout the day:
- Everyone has their own journey and it was an eye opener to learn about other people’s struggles
- I thought I had boundaries in place all this time and it turns out that I allowed people to over step the mark time and time again
- There really is no rush to settle down. Despite the mounting pressure from family.
We place such an importance about getting married in Asian culture as though that’s the only thing we have to look forward to as women. The reality is a lot of us are way too busy making a difference in our own and other people’s lives, which is way more important than a ring on our finger.
The sooner parents, families, elders and most importantly MEN realise this, the better.
In part 2, I’ll be exploring what the final stage of this programme teaches me, how I feel going forward after the experience and whether I did find Mr Right!
When it comes to the question ‘who inspires you?’ I truly think there is no definitive answer. I’ve been inspired by so many people throughout this topsy turvy life.
I quite like that we admire different people throughout our life. It shows personal growth as our tastes change and we come to realise that different qualities are important to us. Casting my mind back to my teenage years was a bit of a challenge but I’ve compiled my list and what with International Women’s Day recently passing, I thought I’d carry on the celebrations and pay tribute to the women who I’ve learned a lot from.l
The Spice Girls… For showing me the meaning of girl-power
I’m going to say it loud and proud – The Spice Girls were my all time favourite. I adored this group and loved that there was so much to identify with so young; friendship, girl power and having fun. I think every group of girl friends felt that the Spice Girls were a reflection of them. The only sad thing was the eventual split of the group but despite that, girls around the world managed to draw out the positives, which has stayed with them in some way.
Jackie Collins… For showing me the exciting side of writing
Jackie Collins rocked my teenage years with her sordid stories and her bold, brazen characters. I fell in love with Madison Castelli then was head over heels for Lucky Santangelo. Both fictional characters, but oh my God did I want them to be real people. I miss Jackie Collins tremendously and still feel quite sad that we’ll never see how the Santangelo dynasty continues and how the Castelli’s bridge their family together.
My English teachers… For equipping me with the education I needed
Believe it or not, my English teachers in my secondary school were a huge source of inspiration. If it wasn’t for the collective efforts of Ms Atwood, Ms Athanasi and Ms Taylor, I don’t know what my career would look like now. They made English fun and out of all my subjects at school, it was English I most looked forward to. I loved it so much that Journalism awaited me at university and a place among other writers and journalists in the working world upon graduating. We take them for granted but I’m so thankful for having the teachers and lecturers I had throughout my educational journey.
Angelina Jolie… For being unconventional
I have always loved Angelina Jolie. She’s not the stereotypical Hollywood actress. She takes risks and even to this day navigates through life to the beat of her own drum. I can’t tell you how much I love that. Sure she’s not everyone’s cup of tea – if she was, then she wouldn’t be who she is. Say what you want about her relationships and past, she’s raised a beautiful family while campaigning for worthwhile causes around the world. She’s even been very forthcoming about her health issues, undergoing a preventative double mastectomy and a preventative oophorectomy after learning about her chances of developing both breast and ovarian cancer. I don’t know think I’d be brave enough to even find out whether I carried defective genes in the first place.
Now, as controversial as they are, it wouldn’t be right of me to publish a blog post about the females who have inspired me and not mention *wait for it* the Kardashians. Now before you swiftly exit my page out of sheer shock, let me explain.
Khloe Kardashian… For her sass and discipline
I’m focusing only on Khloe Kardashian and it’s not because of her endorsements or club appearances. It’s more to do with her character. She’s built differently from her sisters. She has such a strong ‘in-your-face’ personality that I absolutely love. I can’t really resonate with her when it comes to the career she has but I admittedly love how outspoken she is and that out of all her sisters, she seems to be able to identify with people easily and is protective of the ones she loves. She’s also very disciplined. Khloe has transformed her body and overall health over the last couple of years – something that takes dedication and strong willpower.
Queen Rania… For her philanthropy
The Duchess of Cambridge may be the most popular Royal at the moment, but at 20, it was all about Queen Rania of Jordan for me. Her work in education, community empowerment and with the youth is incredibly impressive. She’s helped to create opportunities by refurbishing 500 schools in Jordan over a five year period and has created the Queen Rania scholarship programme which partners with a number of universities from around the world. In addition to that she’s probably one of the most graceful women I’ve ever laid my eyes on and so social media savvy! I hope she continues to work for causes she feels strongly about.
Lilly Singh… For her work ethic
Whenever anyone mentions the word ‘hustle’, I think of Lilly Singh. I first watched one of her videos that was posted on Facebook and ended up crying with laughter. The rest they say, was history. I love Lilly’s energy, positivity, her outlook on days that seem bleak and her work ethic. My God, this woman werrrrrrkkssss. You can tell she puts her all into her projects which is why she’s amassed a following over over 8 million subscribers on YouTube and has already gone on a world tour, released a handful of music videos and is now exploring opportunities in Los Angeles. My birthday twin, I always look to her when I feel like I’m slacking. There’s always a video or a reminder of some sort to keep me going.
Deepika Padukone… For her bravery
It was around this age that I started falling head over heels for Deepika Padukone. It had been so long since I had been in awe of a Bollywood actress and I loved that she didn’t hail from a filmy family. She didn’t waltz into Bollywood thanks to a famous actress mother or a producer father. She worked and earned her stripes among the big dogs in Bollywood. However it was her battle with depression that sealed her as an inspiration for me. She openly voiced her struggles – quite an uncommon move for an Indian actress. By talking openly about her depression, she opened the door for discussion on mental health in India, which is a topic that is rarely spoken about.
Taraji P Henson… For her determination to shatter glass ceilings
The more I see of Taraji P Henson, the more I love her. Her portrayal of Cookie Lyon on TV show Empire has won her Best Actress awards and you don’t have to look far to see why. Sassy and fierce both on screen and off, she’s also got such a zest for life, which is something I think we all take for granted. Sure, she’s an actress and is able to enjoy the finer things in life but she’s worked to get to where she is and I can completely appreciate that. Some may not know but she’s been raising her son singlehandedly. Sadly, the father of her son was brutally murdered back in 2003. Taraji continues to climb that ladder and as she succinctly puts it:’For whatever reason, God gave me this life, and I’m not gon’ f–k it up.’
Naga Munchetty… For showing me that it can be done
Finally, I have noticed a surge in Asian faces within the media which is great to see in terms of diversity. One presenter who I’ve grown to love over the last year and is still very much an inspiration is Naga Munchetty. Bright and bubbly, she fronts the BBC Breakfast Show.
I’ve feel like everyone has a mentor or figure that they regard with respect when it comes to their career and for me, Naga is that person. Starting out as a financial journalist, she progressed into broadcasting working as a producer and then moved into presenting and reporting. It’s important to pay attention (and admiration) to people who have achieved the goals and ambitions you’re also working towards. They’ve obviously worked to get to where they are, which makes them the perfect inspiration when you really feel the struggle.
Which ladies have inspired you along the years? Have they changed drastically as time has gone on?
Spending your Tuesday evening at an award ceremony isn’t a bad idea at all.
Nestled behind the busy streets of Knightsbridge, Atout France hosted the French Travel Media Awards, where travel writers gathered to celebrate the best of France in an intimate ceremony.
Representatives from various regions in France took the time to talk to guests during a champagne networking segment about the wonders they could discover in Toulousse, Marseille and the Loire Valley to name a few.
Travel has become an absolute must for me over the last few years – even if I’m venturing outside of London for the weekend, it’s an opportunity to learn about a new place and see new sights. It’s actually quite a coincidence to be publishing this on International Women’s Day as I loved being in the company of people and female writers who have made this a career. I can’t explain how insanely inspiring this was and more important, they were all the proof I needed to see it can be done if I want it bad enough.
Learning about the different regions in France opened my eyes up to viewing the country as more than just a romantic getaway. There is culture, history and efforts to progress with the times all within France. From family run vineyards to art installations that merge the past with the future, I can guarantee you that there is something for everyone in France – you just have to know where to go.
The networking reception was followed by a delicious – French inspired – menu. Taking my halal-only requirement into consideration was so kind of Atout France (Thank you so much!)
Atout’s guestlist ranged from freelancers to editors of publications. It was a great mix of individuals all of whom have a deep rooted passion for travel writing about France
The awards encompassed areas such as ‘Best Blog’, ‘Best City Break Feature’ and ‘Best Family Break Feature’.
It’s good to see that work being done by a range of writers is being recognised. All too often writers plug away and put their heart and soul into an article or an entire niche with no pay off. Atout France have been phenomenal in celebrating the best of France – it was because of them I got see Nantes last year and also the reason why I had a deep desire to explore more of France.
So thank you again Atout France for your generosity in extending the invitation to me and you can be sure to see more French filled travels soon on the blog!
I’ve been eyeing up The School of Life for a while.
Situated on Marchmont Street near Russell Square, this organisation specialises in developing emotional intelligence through culture. Alongside a shop, they also run classes and workshops and one to one therapy services which all contribute to helping us grow.
Last Tuesday evening, with a scolded finger in tow, I made my way there for an evening hosted by travel blogger Julie Falconer who runs a lovely blog called A Lady in London.
The talk was attended by a range of people, male and female from a variety of backgrounds. I instantly loved Julie’s enthusiasm and her story. After working in finance in San Francisco, she threw caution to the wind, quit her job and moved to London where she now runs a successful travel blog full time. It reads like the dream blog story!
The purpose of the talk was to identify our passions and walk away with the tools needed to turn them into a career.
Our first exercise was to identify our passions. Sounds easy enough but I found it interesting how we naturally associate our passions with our work and professional life. Having to think about what I loved within my personal life created a very mixed bag; traveling, identifying and helping people, animals and homeware all made the list.
I’ve got a solid idea of what my passion is already though. It’s this blog. However Julie managed to pry out my inner most fears about pursuing this full time. If I’m honest, I’m concerned about the competition. Had I started years ago when blogs weren’t as common as they are now then this class may not have been necessary for me but I still thought it was worth going to see what kind of guidance and advice Julie could shed.
Our fears do a lot to us and it’s only when you sit down and think about them do you realise just how many we have. One thought that flashed across my mind was ‘what if my writing isn’t good enough?’ – I know a bunch of people would scream at me and ask what on earth am I talking about (these are obviously friends and family) but I do have a valid point. There are so many awesome writers out there – how do you know if you’re good enough to stand alongside the greats?
Anyway, I’m deviating. Falconer navigated us through this topic by thinking about other aspects we may need to consider like envisioning what we would like our career to look like and thinking about funding and business plans. Remember, not everyone wants to blog full time, so I liked that she came to this talk with advice that would satisfy a variety of passions and potential career options.
Though advice wasn’t tailored specifically for bloggers, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this talk. It helped me identify fears that I had been suppressing and if anything, I’ll walk away determined to shed them.
The School of Life not only offers classes in helping you professionally, they host some interesting classes that can help you personally and emotionally. I’d definitely recommend checking them out and booking early if you see a class or workshop you like the look of – places go fast.
Side note: I’ve been soooo sick over the last week and generally feeling sorry for myself which is why this blog is kind of late. I was thinking of taking photos of myself but my face is in no fit state to be photographed. So swatches of the make up below will have to do!
In recent years I’ve become a bit more interested in make up and learning the tricks of the trade. From using eye shadow to fill in my eyebrows, to putting tape on my face in order to achieve that fierce winged liner, I’m definitely improving and venturing out of my comfort zone.
Admittedly I do turn to the odd beauty blogger or two for inspiration. My personal favourite is Irene Khan. I love her make up tutorials as well as her travels. Mostly because her videos are always so beautifully captured and well edited.
The only drawback to my admiration is that some of the products she uses are US based, making it difficult to get my hands on them here. So when both my Mum and Dad visited New York recently, I couldn’t let them come back empty handed. List in tow, they definitely didn’t disappoint!
Colorpop’s Matte Finish Lipgloss
I watched one of Irene’s videos where she tested a bunch of shades suited to South Asian complexions. It’s definitely a mission to find that perfect shade but Colorpop had a number of options that I was keen to try.
In the end, I opted for Tulle, Stingraye and Teeny Tiny. At first glance, they all seem very similar in colour, but upon applying them, you could differentiate between the shades.
I wasn’t expecting Teeny Tiny to be quite so dark and definitely think less is more with this shade. Definitely a shade I would wear during autumn or when I’m looking to draw attention to the lips. I do like the brown undertone that comes through with this shade but will probably wear this sparingly.
Stingraye is the one that complimented my complexion the most and the shade you could wear on a day to day basis. It contains the right amount of brown and pink, making it a good ‘nude’ for my skin tone.
Although Tulle contains those brown undertones that suits south Asian complexions, it still pops quite a bit with a hint of red. Like Teeny Tiny, this too is a shade where less is definitely more but you could also get away with wearing every day as it’s not as intense as other reds – think MAC’s Ruby Woo.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour and Matte Finish lip gloss
I’ve dabbled with contour before but never owned a proper contour kit. I opted to jump straight in with a classic item that has been featured on a number of YouTube tutorials.
Though Anastasia Beverly Hills offers different kits to suit darker skin tones, I wanted colours that would leave a subtle result. As I’m not 100% confident in heavy contouring as well, I thought the original palette would be ideal as I get started with my contour journey. The darker tones seemed a bit too intense for a complete beginner.
The darker shades in the original palette have worked well with my skin tone and can easily be built up if I choose to define those cheekbones even more. I LOVE the banana highlighter. It works well with my complexion and doesn’t leave my face looking pale, which was one concern I had.
As for the matte finish lip gloss, I was lost for words at how bold this pink was. The trick here is lip liner. Apply a deeper shade all over your lips and dab some of the Pure Hollywood gloss over that and blend. What you’ll get is a soft pink effect that works well as another everyday nude and an understated one especially if you’re playing up those eyes.
I’ve clearly got a lot of new additions to experiment with and while you won’t see me turning into a beauty vlogger any time soon, let me know if there are any other everyday nude lip shades that work for you.
Crisp winter mornings are what I live for. While everyone despairs about the bitter cold, I can’t help but admire the splash of colour stained across the sky first thing in the morning. It was the perfect way to start my Saturday ahead of the Bejewelled Treasures exhibition in South Kensington.
The V&A is slowly becoming a favourite place of mine where you can lose yourself and forget about the outside world for a few hours. The Al-Thani collection on display until 28 March 2016 takes us through 400 years of stunning Indian jewellery. From intricate turban jewels, to precious stones which adorned items that were made for Mughal emperors, the collection was full of intricate craftsmanship which reflected Indian heritage throughout the years.
It was interesting to see the evolution of Indian jewellery from the early 17th century to the present day where some famous jewels from leading European houses such as Cartier reveal a more significant impact of India on Art Deco jewellery. I found myself enchanted with items from the earlier years where there seemed to be more in the way of detail, exuberance and a flamboyant feel. After all, these jewels were made for royalty.
As we travelled through the years, the tone completely changed within the 20th century. These jewels were far more understated and simplistic. Completely different from earlier designs, these items illustrated the ‘cross-cultural exchanges’ that continue to ‘inspire contemporary jewellery design in India and Europe.’
I fell in love with so many show stoppers on display but the ones that really held my attention were the earlier jewels filled with detail, colours and a vibrant history. So much of today’s contemporary style revolves around being minimal, so it was refreshing to cast an eye back throughout history and really marvel at how extraordinary these goldsmiths were, especially without the technology we now have access to.
If you’re a big jewellery fan then this is definitely an exhibition you’ll appreciate.
The Bejewelled Treasures exhibition is still running at the V&A until 28 March 2016, so be sure to head on down there and check out the collection for yourself.
There is no doubt that starting a blog – and remaining consistent – will open up incredible opportunities to you. I’ve been fortunate to have met some wonderful people and worked alongside some fantastic brands so far. It’s been an absolute dream.
I’ve had moments however, where my patience has been tested and there are instances where I find myself apologising to avoid awkward and aggressive confrontation as well as to remain polite and professional.
If I’m completely honest, I’m not okay with this. Sure, I can brush it off and get on with my day, but those that know me, know I’m not like this. I’ve bitten my tongue so much for the sake of my blog and there comes a point where you need to be assertive and you need to speak up – even if it makes you unpopular.
I’m not saying to wade in ready to argue at every given opportunity. Don’t do that! However having the confidence to stand your ground is important if you are to show that you’re serious about your blog and the time you invest in growing your space on the Internet.
You’ve been emailing PRs and marketing departments for months on end about an upcoming event and have heard nothing back. There is nothing wrong in being a little firm in your follow-up email expressing your interest and what you can offer in terms of coverage. Bloggers are sometimes not held in the same esteem as journalists but they’re actually a hugely influential force that are tapping in to multiple audiences. When you have that kind of effect, you can afford to be a bit assertive in your emails.
Standing by your goals
Every blogger has a list of goals they want to achieve when they start their blog. It could be to make friends through a common interest, develop your writing or even build a foundation for your career. Whatever they are, they are yours. Don’t let anyone belittle legitimate goals that you’re passionate about.
I almost feel as a blogger it’s our duty to give feedback in all forms. If we’re happy to write about product reviews and share our thoughts on the latest mascara or contour palette we purchase, then why shouldn’t we do the same when it comes to organisation of events and the way in which press was handled? How are brands and PRs suppose to know their areas for improvement if no one tells them? You don’t need to be cruel with your comments, but being encouraging and constructive will show people that you have a vested interest in the work they do and they’ll appreciate the honesty you exert.
When I first started blogging, I never expected to be invited to events. So when that happened I felt obliged to accept every invitation. I didn’t want to give people the impression that I didn’t care or that I was too good for their invite. But my desire to please everyone left me with the shortest straw. Lack of sleep, time away from my family and hours holed up in my room typing away is not healthy. Especially if your job already involves a computer! Evaluate how valuable events and exhibitions are to your blog and how they fit into the overall objectives you have.
Furthermore if an event doesn’t excite you or sends your creativity into overdrive, then it’s probably not worth your time.
Everyone will have individual achievements they can reflect on when looking back on their blog. This could be reaching a certain number of subscribers, being able to interview someone they’ve always dreamt of or attending a convention which provided insane networking opportunities. Whatever you cite as an achievement should be shouted about. Don’t shy away from mentioning them in emails to PRs in order to give your blog more leverage or even in job interviews to demonstrate characteristics like perseverance and consistency, which employers love.
Got any other instances that we shouldn’t be apologetic about? Let me know!